Sunday, January 29th, 2023
Sunday, January 29th, 2023

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Dead fish at Okla. lake result of natural causes

Woodward, Okla. (AP) – State wildlife officials say a large fish
kill at a lake in Woodward discovered last week was due to low
oxygen levels and the result of natural causes.

John Stahl, the northwest regional fisheries supervisor for the
Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, said fish biologist
Ty Harper investigated the incident at Crystal Beach Lake and noted
that “the water clarity was like that of strong iced tea.”

That is indicative of a natural phenomenon known as a plankton
bloom, Stahl said. Plankton are microscopic plants and animals that
are the basis of the food chain in a water habitat, and an
overabundance of the organisms interferes with their ability to
photosynthesize, especially on dark and cloudy days, he said.

Because carbon dioxide is converted to oxygen through
photosynthesis, if that process doesn’t occur enough, “oxygen
crashes in the pond and fish die,” Stahl said.

Buck Ray, the wildlife department’s state coordinator for fish
kill investigations, said that many times during the spring and
early summer, “we have an issue with dissolved oxygen in lakes and
ponds because as part of the natural cycle, the oxygen-poor water
at the bottom of the pond turns over to the top. It has to do with
low temperature change.”

He said most fish kills during this period of the year are
because of such an occurrence.

Stahl said the fish kill at Crystal Beach Lake “wasn’t reported
when it was fresh,” as the state of decomposition of some of the
fish indicated they had been dead almost two weeks.

He said such a delay can make it difficult for investigators to
determine what caused a fish kill, although in the Crystal Beach
Lake case, they are reasonably certain of what happened.

Stahl said a chemical cause for the fish kill was ruled out
because of the obvious plankton bloom and the recent long stretch
of wet weather.

“This was a normal occurrence,” he said.

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